Book and film reviews

The end of normality

Obituary for our life as it was before

(Published in Grail World 76/2013)

From Gabor Steingart,
Piper, Munich 2012, ISBN 978-3-492-27489-0, 182 pages.

Have politics, the economy, the environment, life, the world ever changed faster than in the last few decades?

Only today do we become fully aware that the years of the so-called Cold War were a stable, downright “peaceful” time, at least for Europe. Although two enemy camps faced each other threateningly, nuclear weapons forced a military stalemate. But when the enemy images dissolved and world peace seemed more tangible than ever before, the world by no means became more peaceful, but rather it became more complicated and confusing. Suddenly everything seems to be changing, everything is different from what it was before. Here are a few key words:

Working world (outsourcing and part-time work), understanding of democracy, family image (single parents and blended families), high finance, media, moral concepts, religious ethics, social security, trust in the state, defense ("Germany is also defended in the Hindu Kush"[i]), World market, economy, interpersonal relationships. It is difficult to get used to the new that is flooding us, to keep up with the rapid paradigm shift, and to find new ethical standards after the old ones have been lost ...

Gabor Steingart outlines this modern “revaluation of all values” (Nietzsche), the loss of the familiar, the decline of the obvious, in his easy-to-read book in a series of smart essays that work out the core of the confusing processes in an understandable form for everyone. Anyone who is interested in current affairs, sometimes confused or unsettled by them, should definitely read this captivating book.

Even Steingart cannot say where the stream of history is taking us, but he finds a hopeful outlook at the end of his work:
“If there is no power working within us, we are empty. Switching off all previous sources of power gives people a freer, but not a better life….
The new age places high and highest, possibly even heroic, demands on the individual. Self-questioning takes the place of masturbation and self-service. Of all forms of domination, self-control is the most difficult. The end of normality does not mean the end of history, but the beginning of a new time. It won't be an easy time. But it could be our happiest. "

Final grade:  
[i] Defense Minister Peter Struck in May 2003: “The security of the Federal Republic of Germany is also being defended in the Hindu Kush”.